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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  January 21, 2015 12:00am-1:01am EST

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>> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: >> rose: additional funding provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city this is charlie rose. >> rose: welcome to the program.
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we're live this evening from new york, washington, iowa and florida. tonight barack obama delivered the sixth state of the union address. the speech marks an opportune moment for the president and his party economic improvement and high approval ratings have produced a new wave of optimism since midterm elections in november. the president highlighted that progress, laid out a vision for his last two years in office. >> at this moment, with the growing economy shrinking deficits bustling industry, booming energy production, we have risen from recretion with the freedom to write our own future than any other nation on earth. it's now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next 15 years and for decades to come. middle class economics works. expanding opportunity works. and these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don't get in the way. in iraq, in syria american
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leadership including our military power is stopping isil's advance. instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the middle east we are leading a broadcoalition including arab nations to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group. tonight i call on this congress to show the world we are united in this mission, bypassing a resolution to authorize the use of force against isil. and tonight i urge this congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber attacks combat identity theft and protect our children's information. that should be a bipartisan effort. >> rose: joining me from washington is david sanger, national security correspondent of the "new york times." walter isaacson president of the aspen institute and from florida, presidential his attorney doris kearns goodwin. from iowa, john dickerson, the chief political correspondent for slate magazine and political
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director for cbs news. with me is al huntqnews and jon meacham author and historian. joining is with all due respect john -- i'm pleased to have all of them here. take a look at the assessment of this state of the union and what it says about what the president calls the final quarter of his presidency. and i begin with al hunt reaction to this state of the unit and what it said and what it means. >> charlie, thisweeks ago who suffered a disastrous electoral defeat. he's a lame duck president and terrible cycle yet tonight i think he gave one of the best speeches of his president z i thought he was compelling, he was appropriately assertive he was confident. he didn't give a laundry list of 28 different programs. but i think he struck a good balance when you know, a populist rhetoric that is in tune with the times as opposed to maybe five or ten years ago.
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ten years ago at least. and also stressed values and i thought he did it remarkably, it was remarkably effective. much more than i expected. >> rose: even if his intent to get things done. >> he won't get much things done. that's always the case in this cycle. bill clinton, georgeandrew jackson maybe. this is not a cycle where you get much. he may get stuff on trade. >> rose: to reassert the debate. >> the debate will lead up to the presidential election and i think he set the predicate that was advantageous for democrats. this is a 15 round fight this is round one. >> rose: doris kearns goodwin, what did you think. >> there's been a vacuum of leadership both sides of the hill in these last months and people have felt it. i think what the president did tonight was to reassert himself
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into that leader ship role and to take charge perhaps of that debate that you're just mentioning. he seems to have fun tonight which we haven't seen him do for a while. he spoke not only with confidence but the cadence of his voice went up and down. he smiled a few times. he made those little spontaneous gestures. and he was at the center of attention. that's what happens at the state of the union which is the best thing in the world for any president, everybody's there watching him. like teddy roosevelt wanted to be the bribe at the wedding and courtrooms at the funeral and baby at the baptism. i think he filled that role more than he has other times and i think it means at least with that leadership exercise back. people were complaining where is the leader that he may have a greater chance to shape what happens at least retoreally for the 2016 campaign and his legacy and what actually gets down in the lame duck congress. >> rose: john dickerson in high was.
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>> state of the union is kind of a perfect example of the constraint of the presidency on a president who thought hecome in and be a little bit more free wheeling, a little looser, a little lighter on his feet. and tonight was that vision of the president. if you just look at the speech he gave, he kind of took care of the compulsory stuff in the previous two weeks leading up to it. all the laundry list, the items that heqçñwas going his new programs. he mentioned them of course tonight but he didn't have to froift his speech with that or freight them in his speech. he had a narrative art to his speech. he returned to the storytelling of the 2008 campaign when he talked about the earlier family of minnesota. this is an attempt by the president the constraints of lame duck on him the style of the speech facing the congress for the first time republican in the house and senate. through all the constraints that was him trying to show his kind of free wheeling side. and he probably did his best as he could.
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but of course, the republicans many of them in that house for the first time are there because they think the voters send them to repudiate the president's policy. the president was saying the verdict is in and the policies succeeded. that gives you a sense of how different the world are those two groups come from. >> rose: mitch. >> well i think one reason he told stories and talks about values is because he can't get anything passed.so i think that's one thing we should think about. >> rose: first time his speech to congress full of republicans. >> most of the republicans in the house think it's a hoover situation much more like the first bush than anybody. there's two visions of the presidency in play here. one is, as we're talking about kind of communicator in chief, a leader of thought in the life of the nation. he very much played that role. it was an interesting conversation about a lot of of the issues that matter most to people. but then there's a legislator in chief role which is going to be
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incredibly difficult. so he spoke incredibly well. the question inevitably will be how much of that rhetoric becomes action itself. >> rose: walter. >> i think he confidently captured the historic narrative. and it was a clear and compelling narrative, which is where the country comes out of this devastating great recession. and an an astounding great way but it's mainly benefited the top owners or the top people in this country so you got to help the middle class and we all have to share in this prosperity. it's very historic because you can go backañó to what doris kearns goodwin wrote about a century agoutf!ñ going from an agriculture to an industrial economy and we made high school universal and free. back to the time of lincoln when we made land grant colleges so that a middle class can make a transition in a growing economy. and that's what this speech was
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all about. >> rose: david. >> you know charlie what struck me is that the cadence of this speech was much more like what you heard on the campaign trail in 2008. about an optimistic view of america. and if you think back to the previous states of the union speeches that the president has given, many of them were to exhort the united states to get its competitive edge back. i was going back today and looked at the 2011 speech when he talked about our sputnik moments where he thought the united states had a moment now to compete with the chinese in rail and energy and so forth. and instead, this time, he said look, we're out ahead. we're producing more oil and gas than we ever have before. we're free of foreign imports than we've ever been before.as6 dand so he was sort of saying
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this is the moment that you've been waiting for. and then how do you build on it. and he was a little bit short on the legislative proposals on how to do so. the only false note i thought i detected was in his description of the islamic state. where he portrayed the islamic state as sort of on the run from the american attacks started last summer. and i think there's a fair bit of reason to question whether or not these attacks have been anywhere near as effective as you might have thought if you were just listening to this speech. >> rose: we'll come back to all of that. with all due respect mark halperin and john heilemann. mark. >> going back two-and-a-half months ago charlie and the president coming off the midterm was eith)sñ liked enough in washington nor respected enough in washington to get anything done. the thought then was if you're going to get anything done you have to capitulate through
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republicans. mostly lie by luck and design the president comes into tonight or out of tonight with an improved economy, higher approval rating, some executive action that showed forward momentum that's let led to some extent to his higher approval rate and the agenda with the people significantly more popular whether the republican senate is offering or republican candidates are offering. i thought some of the things he said tonight would not improve his relationship with republicans by any means. but he's more powerful he's got more political capital tonight than two and-a-half months ago by a lot. that could lead i think i'm more optimistic than some, that could lead to republicans doing business with him in these last two years. >> rose: mark. >> well, i just, look, i agree a lot of what's been said so far. to me the signal thing about the speech is how surprising it is. i'll say this slightly different way than others have.
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it was a triumphant speech in a lot of ways. the president heading into his seventh yearjé after the rubbing he took several months ago is shocking. so much to do with the economy. this is the first time barack obama has been able to stand up at a state of the union and genuinely say the state of the economy is strong. it still has problems the wage growth is too slow and there's income ineconomic but the gdp growth is up. corporate profits all of those things soaring right now. he's able to come with the wind toes his back no one could have anticipated in november. you and i charlie talk about narrative and power of narrative. i saw more than anything here a guy, people wanted to write a story about barack obama in november and december. and he has moved with great alacrity and force to try to say i may not be the only author of my story, but i am still the author of my story and i'm going
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to try to write this thing in a way i want to see it ridden and i'm not going to become irrelevant or completely controlled by republicans in congress or by the larger forces around me. i'm still here to play. >> rose: all right. let me just all of you this. i mean how does this set up the debate we will see. the idea of asking for tax increases on the financial community tax increases on wealthierçñ individuals and at the same time raising the capital gains tax and at the same time asking for some tax cuts that will benefit the middle income who have been suffering so much. who is on what part of that debate. >> charlie, i will be stunned if he gets any of that but i think he's put republicans on the defensive on that. i said earlier it was a more popular speech and more in tune with the times. >> rose: more in tune with elizabeth warren well it is but the focus groups in denver
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colorado, the populous outpoint. people think this economic recovery has been unfair. there's an anti-wall street sentiment out there far more than there was ten years ago. and he captured some of that today without really demonstrateyk gnawing demagoguing on it. the pay force will be very difficult but he's taking control of the debate. and i think that is -- >> rose: he speaks this one voice -- >> let me tell you something. he's not a popular figure among a lot of the senate democrats. people critical of him said he was a different barack obama. he was forceful they took him on a rant and they stuck it right back to it and really stuffed him if you will. they said they really thought the attitude and confidence was quite different. and i think he feels a little
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bit liberated. this is a culmination of the last 60 days where he has bell clinton kind of sulked after he lost. and this guy went was from the get-go. >> i think there's a period of kind of constrained populism right now. and harry truman once said of andrew jackson he looked after the little fellow who had no pole. and that's what a president is supposed to do. it's a pretty good definition. so that conversation about economics, democrats went. when it's about culture republicans tend to win. so one question about all this to spin ahead almost exactly two years is to what extent will a democratic victory at 16 be attached to how the president conducts himself over this next 18 months or so. >> rose: anything that might happen other than war and peace that might happen in the remaining quarter as he characterizes it all for the possibility of enhancingj7klegacy
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as president. >> charlie -- >> i think -- >> rose: walter first and then doris. >> i think his legacy is going to depend on taking an economic recovery and saying i get up every morning and i care about people like you. it's a fundamental question in politics and if he can make that the game the fierplayed the court on which its played will help enormously. i think he can get a lot done not by persuading republicans but persuading most americans this is fair. we even do need, even to say that a guy or gal who earns a bi-weekly paycheck shouldn't pay higher tax rates than people who get it through dividends and capital gains. that's something i think you can sell at a time of great growing prosperity where it shant been fairly shared. and secondly people always say
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he's best in the fourth quarter of his basketball game. the fact he's come out shooting is just wonderful. >> rose: doris, you were going to say. >> what i was going to say i think he's already feeling a sense that this is a marker for the beginning of the legacy. churchill said history will teach me well becausegg i intend to ride it. i think to a certain extent he knows all throughout his presidency he's talked about economic justice. this is not a new theme. it's something he argued every time he looked at the past state of the unions but now with the economy strong he happens the chance really to make that argument about the fact the people who are not benefiting by it. if he can keep who wering -- hammering that whom, he can also say he brought around a recession almost the worst since the depression. and we ended up at a time when many more people were doing well. economy's not just a word, it means people wake up in the morning and they know they've got a purpose to go a job, they know they're paying their bills
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they have hope for their future their witnessed -- kid might be going to that community college. people looking back at history are those we look upon as social justice. i don't think he's just feeling the economy per se he's feeling his sense of the future which he's always cared about and more engraved than these last couple years. >> charlie if you talk about legacy, you have successful implementation of obamacare and2h@3the economy gets better the republicans lose their strongest argument against the affordable care act. which is it's ruining the economy. they can't make that argument. it would be harder to disman hull and it becomes more popular. the other thing he's on the offense on these tax issues. he's proposing things i guarantee you his pollsters say 70/30 in favor. he's on the offense on tax
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reform, offense on paying for community college. as long as he's on the offense again harder for republicans to strategize and come up with a way to dismantle or undermine the affordable care act. that's his legacy no matter what he does on trade or corporate tax. >> charlie i will add one thing which is i think there's no question that who sceappedz him in 2016 is going to matter a lot. it's hard for a party to hold the presidency for three terms. this is his primary motivation advancing these economic proposals, i don't think that's his primary motivation but at least part of his motivation he's putting republicans in a terrible position where they have to in many cases they're going@yi to be voicing opposition to programs as mark said probably poll very much like
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70/30 20/80 issues for many americans and it's hard for any party to hold the whitehouse for a third term. he will advance the cause of his democratic potential successor in this way and getting that democratic successor would mean a lot to preserve whatever legacy he has. >> rose: david sanger on foreign policy, ron and the isis and isil, where is the public and where is he in wanting to do this because he made a point that he got us out of iraq and that he's slated to get us out of afghanistan and all of a sudden we have the president asking for permission to engage an authorization to engage in another middle east war. >> charlie i thought one of the most artful parts of the speech was how he connected america's
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economic strength to its strength abroad. so, he made basically the case that america would naturally be in the league. youou didn't hear any hint of leading from behind. and he built that in part on his argument that because we are producing our own oil, because we have our troops out of iraq and largely out of afghanistan that we're in a much better position to exercise power. and he said to exercise it smartly which meant not responding militarily to every provocation. but isis, isil as he called it, does get in the way of that narrative to some degree. because he made an argument that congress needed to authorize this use of force. only months after arguing last summer that this was within the powers of the commander in chief. so i think in part this was responding to the calls from some republicans and some democrats, as well that congress had to get involved in this as well.
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where he got a much harder edge was in the discussion of iran where he basically told congress to butt out. >> rose: on the sanctions issue. >> on the sanctions. his biggest fear is a sanctions resolution, even sanctions that would go into effect after the deadline for these negotiations are passed in june, would effectively give the hardfq%9ersçó in iran who want to scuttle a negotiation the opportunity to do just that. and this is a place where opponents of the negotiation in congress and opponents in iran have common ground here. the president realizes one beyond the cuba recognition that was gratifying but not strategically that important is trying to reach an agreement with iran which he recognizes himself is less than a 50/50 shot. >> rose: everybody here i want to come to john dickerson
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on this. everybody here is complimenting the president and saying he's not going to get legislation but he will frame a debate and set stage for the kinds of things we ought to be talking about. the question i have it's obviously propelled because the economy is doing better unemployment is down to just over five points. and we've had a very good growth in gdp last year. for one quarter. could he have been this president earlier? did it take the midterm bumping did it take an economy that was beginning to show some force before he could be the person that he was tonight?anybody. walter. >> i was thinking of doris' book about the bully pulpit where teddy roosevelt feels unleash
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and talks about a square deal for the american people and goes on a whistle stop tour fighting for it. i think what you have there is obama unleashed, unleashed from a desperately debilitating recession unleashed from having to run for office again and having to do things just right along the lines of the square deal that teddy roosevelt proposed beyond a century ago. >> rose: john dickerson you're neither in washington nor new york or florida. you're in iowa. where they have -- >> a wonderful place to be. and they're allto figure that out right now even though the caucuses are a year away. i think in answer to your question it's two things. when you talk to white house aids they use the word liberated to talk about the president. basically he doesn't have another election but he doesn't have to worry reallydemocrats getting re-elected. now having said that of course he cares a great deal about who the nominee of the party is in 2016 and he wants that person to
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become the next president because that assures his legacy. but he feels liberated right now and they use that term all the time. i think the second thing on the economy it's notfimproved, it's that they see finally the permafrost appears to be thank -- thawing. 53% said the economy was good. that's up 13 points from october but more important that was the highest that number's been since 2007. in the gallop poll people's feelings about their own personal income highest its been since 2007 when this great recession started. so there is some purchase for the president's argument that things have gotten better. and to the extent people didn't see!u their lives reflected in those good economic numbers. the president in his pitch was
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not only pitching to programs that are popular but there are in-roads into this conversation. what he's saying is not only am i going to give something you like i know enough about you to know that you need help with your child care, that you've got two workers at home and you need to get a break for that. community college can hip you get that job you want. and the argument here is not just about policies, but whether i understand as a politician what you're going through. and he's trying to put republicans in a box by saying, i understand what they're going through, who do you understand. >> rose: doris go ahead. >> i think what was smart about rolling out the policies beforehand and continuing, i gather, after this speech he said he's going to chris cross the country to keep caulking about it is still that median environment he has to break
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through. will this be a one night stand this speech that so many of us think is so good or breaking news the fact the worm is on fire the fact there are terrorists things going on in]tthe country shift our attention away from foreign policy or other things that are happening and his speech will stand on its in. i think his real challenge how to keep that bigger that fire that drive within him and within the administration at a time when people in his administration are saying where are we going next. we're going to be drawn like moths to light whoever the next nominees are. it can't be a one night stand it has tube continuing courting leading that debate and leading the country forward. >> i want to pick up up on what jon meacham happily describes as a constrained populism and i think that was a core of a lot of what obama was tonight. there's to elements to give him credibility. one is the improved economy we've all discussed. the second is just a stunning
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piece of data that larry summers who no one accused of being a left wing radical. 1979 if you take the sam allocation of income in 2014 if it was just the same we didn't redistribute it to all the bottom 20% would have one trillion more dollars or 11000 per family and the top 1% will have one trillion less. there's been an economicgoing on in this country and the middle class and poor have been losing. there's a sense of that and that's what produces that constrained populism andthat environment is a bit different than it was 10 or 15 years ago. >> rose: i'm a little skeptical of the president's change when they actually get there. i think often we change more and our angles of vision change. at the now who he was is that what you're saying, did he ever
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change or narrative terms. >> we talk about turning a page writing a chapter. he lectured us on the pitfalls of politics. and i think quoted himself, approvingly which is always a good sign. i wonder what the secretary of state was thinking who gave you that speech. whenever you approvingly quote yourself this is a sign of something. charlie rose likes to say ... as a great man once said. i actually think he is, i thinkvñ the man we elected. >> rose: he is the man we elected we saw the man we elected tonight is that what you're saying. >> yes, i do. i think there's a clintonian sense finding issues that work there's an immense amount of
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pride there what he's accomplished and i think there's an e machines amount of frustration what the system won't let him do in his view. >> that's what's so is interesting in the last 60 days rather than saying the system won't let me do that, he's moved them. >> by graphically this is a man who became president of the united states at the age 44 whatever it was. he's a skillful guy. >> rose: david is that you. >> yes. the question you asked before could he have done this earlier is a really interesting one because one would have expected this kind of optimism and this kind of action coming right out of his re-election in 2012 and it didn't happen. he played small ball for two years and people wondered why because that was the moment he seemed he had something of a
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mandate and he still had one'w house in congress. so i thinkiinteresting historical questions about president will be whether this kind of optimistic approach, whether it's more populist approach, whether this sort of greater assertion of american leadership is something he could have done coming right off of his re-election. instead that period of time after his re-election will be defined more by drawing a red line about syria and then backing away from it. >> rose: doris. >> looking back what happened after that second election,er put a lot of his hopes and passion into gun control and it was because the moment called for it seemed like he had the bully pulpit. he did everything you could manage to do and it got no where. i suspect starting off that second inaugural time and your second four years feeling where
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i can't through with all of this drama behind me. it's interesting had he gone for something else right after that but that was right then given what was going on so its inevitable. it did undo optimism what he could do in his last term. >> rose: us from washington. david everybody seems to believe that the president at least was in good form and founded like he would not produce legislation necessary for him to sign certainly was an effort to get to the forefront of the debate that might take place in the country and try to have something in his own arsenal to start the conversation with. what did you think? >> i thought it was a really good speech. i thought it was a better state of the union speeches i heard thematically. it was interesting, the policy proposals were rightly balanced. i guess i to do two big thoughts. one, substantively we had the
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wage dropped in our lambs. neither party had an agenda with the size of the problem. the democrats were talking about hiking minimum wage which is not a big enough policy. i think it's a new grails metal class economics and there was economic security. there was a competitive part. and there was a skills part. and so within each of those backs there were a set of policies and if you add it all up you get an agenda. i don't think it's an agenda that leads us to the french economyc? but still a good economy. i think psychologically how competitive the guy is. for those of us hanging around them÷qyguthese briefings they could have picked the six things the republican sort of agree on and have sort of a cooperative. but they picked the things where their polling is like 80% and the republicans are 20 and they
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said let's hammer them. all the stuff about the speech the moment when the republicans applauded when they said he wasn't going to run again but he said i forget the exact words but i beat you guys twice. that was basketball court trash talk and that's also who he is. so the bipartisanship that's part of him but the trash talk, that's also part. >> rose: you have often said to me david, he does not lack for confidence. >> or competitiveness. he is probably the most competitive human being on the face of the earth outside on michael jordan, arnold palmer, that was there. >> it was interesting charlie that the wisfulness he quoted from ten years ago not a red nation or blue nation. plays right into what david brooks isûj saying because that is the failure of his presidency and the failure when he got re-elected in the second term because he thought maybe he
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could overcome that. he could overcome the partisan divide which actually has become morris -- has a really interesting piece in which he says we're not like a family and we're not like a business in government. we're kind of like football teams now and we just keep bashing each other to score points. and that was i think he sort of wistful. >> rose: he had just given up on this idea that somehow he by the skills he came into the whitehouse in 2008 could somehow after winning in 2008 and 2009 that he could somehow find the common ground and he could to do all this then he was so discouraged he sort of gone back to maybe where hisqb roots were
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and competitiveness was. i(pyn add to that this noise that he evidently was enormously depressed not to be able to participate in the midterm elections and carry forward things he believed in. instead, he was left to be the person that nobody wanted to talk about except the republicans who are running against him. >> i didn't mean to say he wouldn't want to do a bipartisan approach. i think he's kind of wistful and he would like to do it. >> rose: i'm not suggesting he doesn't believe it's possible. >> i think it is possible but i'm an incorrigible optimist. i actually think people, i don't know what the president thinks but i know people around the president think yeah it's possible. there's a lot of common ground we could find. >> he gave a very shrewd diagnosis of partisan america circa 2015. he talks debates, he talked about fund raising, he talked about the environment he talks about cable shows talking to
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each other. he spoke to me as if he, which is characteristic,sñ he had a full on intellectual appreciation of the problem but the solution eluded him eluded all of us and a great president can actually achieve the president's phrase break out of the tired pattern. >> i'm not sure you can do that. but i think, you know -- >> rose: one second doris. >> what doris said earlier some of this is timing. doris said earlier he began his second term with gun control. was gun control and immigration. they had a realistic prospect of getting immigration. john mccain marco rubio and he could not have taken the executive action he took in november two years earlier. he just couldn't have done that because he hadn't given the system a chance. i think he did give the system a chance and found it couldn't work. i think some of it is timing. he was naive,á)0r thinking he could come in because he was the magical man that the system was
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going to change. it's not just under your. it hadn't worked in this sense for a while. >> rose: doris first and then -- go can ahead doris. >> if the system itself has hardened which i think the political culture has over the last decades and even more8vi difficult during this period of time. maybe it's possible to ask for an individual to change it. that's the kind of thing where you need pressure coming from the outside in to force washington to take action. you think about where real social change is taking place in america, it's not when the guy at the top says let's do these great things. it's when you've got a civil rights movement, when you've got an anti-slavery movement. when you've got the unions that were strong. it's that failure we haven't got pushing up. he was a community organizer. he knows that but it doesn't mean that that group is there. he was there hopefully trying to change the political culture
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but without the groups mobilizing to push washington on both parties from the outside in. i'm not sure what anybody could do until that gets stronger. that's why it's interesting tonight he mentioned strengthening unions because that remains. >> rose: go ahead jon. >> i think it's a while the whitehouse believes they have willing partners on the other side. i think now when the president talks about those wistful days in boston when he talked about unity, i think that's a trap in a lot of ways. if you look at his"r speech there was a lot of stuff in it calling us to our better nature but he was also beating the republicans in the stomach. he put them in the box as being the protectors of lobbyists and the super wealthy. he said they were small-minded and had narrow horizons on the xl pipeline. he said they were basically
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hypocrites on the minimum wage. he threatened them with more voteos perhaps doris will fix me on this but than in any state of the union. there were lots of veto threats the there was a lot of aggressions and it was very similarly under the veneer and once he was challenged he boasted he had beaten the republicans twice he did everything but refer to his rock hard abs. when he talks about let's all get together it's basically to say it's the republicans who won't allow us to. >> charlie i think one thing we learned tonight is none of us really understand the implications of what barack obama is like president with a strong economy. he said a but of things. why did he do what he did after his re-election because the economy was still seen as very weak. it held him in from what'[ó he could say. arguing to the country that banks should pay more so people
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can be find college more affordable and raising children more awe forwardable. that is a slam dunk win but when the economy is weak it's hard to make a proposal like that. arguing unions should be more powerful, when the economy's weak a harder argument to make. i think if the economy continues to do well some of the assumptions we've made about the possible tease -- possibilities to work with republicans and make professions to work with them go out the window. because again just as we've never seen barack obama gave a state of the union with a all republican controlled congress we've never seen him president with a strong economy. >> rose: david brooks anything about his speech -- yes. let me come to david first. did anything about had speech surprise you? i mean we spoke to the president's competitiveness. what about what he said from a content standpoint? >> well, my only surprise is psychological. the guy just lost a big election and he comes out full of
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confidence fully convinced. that's kind of shocking. it's kind of interesting about his psychology. from the substantive point of view. i'm much harder than most of the panel on what he could have done even right now. i do think republicans need to pass "!ings. i do think there's common ground. he always has a paragraph on tax reform he never proposes tax reform but that's a bipartisan thing he could work o he could have gone keystone. people in his own administration know the keystone pipeline is probably not a major deal. substantively it's probably a good thing to do but it kills their base. if he's talking about base politics he's playing to the base on that issue. on some of the other things, begin, he's got a good idea but doing it in ways i think the administration know are politically useful but not substantively. so the one i care about most is the community college thing. they know it sounds good to think community college should be free. they know for 60 odd percent of community college students it's already free and the problem is not getting kids into community colleges it's getting them
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through. and yet they go for the political selling pointed. that has been a weakness of this administration. subs tannively from gestures in the right direction but often saw borning that to an easy political point. >> i would disagree slightly with my friend. i think in this case you can't let the perfect enemy of the good. in the absence of a universal gi bill which i think intellectually a lot of us would be in favor of, this is aoñ very good step. and it's something that goes us to as the economic opportunity basket. >> rose: you said is there anything you're suggesting he's doing that you think leads to a french economy. >> well i do think if you take the whole basket, i was semi joking. the serious point i would make is usual raising employment
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costs when you raise employment costs there are trade offs. we do live in the real world and you get less job creation. now we may want to accept that for the sake of this and that but that's part of the e quick the republicans will say. just to come back to my jeffersonian friend meacham there. >> rose: hamilton. >> we're reliving the old debates. i'm hoping doris will come in on my side of this. but you know, college dropout rates on the community colleges are somewhere between 67 and 80%. each of those dropout rates is a tragedy. to lure more kids so they drop out without giving them the structures they need is not a good thing to do. we can take the money and spend a lot#f money for taking the money and boost is community college we need to focus on the real problem not what sounds good in the speech. >> rose: giving the structure so they don't drop out. >> to be fair the administration
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policy does have a little of that. it allows some of that to happen but it's not the stress and they need help paying for the housing. they need guidance counselors and a lot more that's not there. >> rose: we've got ten minutes left of this conversation. i want to ask this question and move to some other things. specifically walter and john and doris. looking at presidents in the most, -- past, does obama remind you of anybody. is there some he could take as instructive as he leads the last two years. >> let doris start. >> i think the important thing is to realize that two years -- let doris start. that two years is a long time. this is a very profound thing to say. but you look at reagan and what he was able to accomplish in the last two years of his presidency. and that had a lot to do with the legacy that he left behind.
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so i think the important thing where i look at franklin roosevelt, high god when he gave his 1939message and it looked like he was saying there's peace in the world even though it's not a good peace and it looked like he wasn't going to run for a third term and the depression hadn't ended and then everything turned -- and his whole legacy is assured. not only could something happen in foreign policy in the next couple years but it's a longer period of sometime except for this ridiculous concentration on the election which is never ending and which never starts so we'll be thinking about it tomorrow. but i think you can take solace he's stretched out those two years by starting it off on a high level tonight. >> i think that what he's done tonight is reframe the debate in a way that will be historically significant which the debate is now about how can we help the middle class. how can we help people whose wages are stagnated. how can we help an economy moved
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ahead where everybody gets to participate in. once you make that the field of discussion, how are we going to help the middle class, what are we going to do. i'll be dr. franklin, ben franklin sitting between my friend the jeffersonian and the hamiltonian where he started the college with the universitypennsylvania. more importantly what that does is say we're not going to be talking about deficits which was how we reduce the deficit. that was the frame of the debate before or how are we going to get out of the economic crises. what we're going to have a battle on and palm ryan and marco rubio and jeba0klx bush and mitt romney how do we make the middle class and working person participates in this recovery and this moving economy. and by reframing the debate to
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be about that issue that changes the historic landscape for the next two years and the next six years. >> rose: that seems to me to have been obvious for a while. the president has talked about it. david remnick the president told david that i've got a quote here somehow he said to david, he wanted to be remembered most for what he did for the middle class and the people that he opened up to the middle class. i mean this was said several years ago. so the idea that developed in the mid terms was somehow people felt genuinely left behind about what was going on in washington. we saw a bit of thatj about what happened coming out of the recession of 2008 and the way wall street was treated and people felt that wall street that there was not fairness. but that issue has been waiting for someone to define a narrative that -- go ahead david. >> i agree. the issue is there the agenda has not been there. if you cast your mind back to
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the democratic convention i was going around asking obama what are you going to do next term give me a piece of agenda, a legislative item. they did not have an answer. so parties think slowly and the party has come up with an agenda and i think we saw it tonight. the republicans are a little behind because they don't have the presidency but you look at the speeches that marco rubio is giving about the middle class, the paul ryan the young writers they're coming up with their own agenda. i think we're seek the agendas harden and i think with walter this is the debate. i would like to tell the president what doris just wrote about. there are certain air -- era where there's structural -- when alexander hamilton who understood we're going to be an industrial economyzñi and the evil
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jeffersonñk who was looking for -- >> charlie i think you're right. senator obama talked about the middle class in 2008 but i think mark halperin was right earlier when he said what we're talking about here is the change in the economy. he had lots of proposals, the american jobs act and all of these other things that were swallowed the minute he said them because the economy was undermining them. now he's making the case that the economy is validated those proposals. if people buy that he has standing he didn't have before and now he has some more solid structure underneath him. i think the second part that's a part of this is republicans with no longer just say well, his policies have led to a bad economy a. b, they also now have to offer proposals that are going to be turned into legislation and have to pass both houses of congress. they have to write in pen now
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instead of pencil. i think that sharpens the argument sharpens the debrate, brings this debate walter is talking about out of theory and into actual policies that can be measured. final point w450eu8 doris is of course right we're way too early in talking about 2016 that does provide an external pressure for republicans in 2016 when they have a much different landscape in the senate in take they have to prove they can govern. that will put some pressure on them to get things passed. the obsession with politics too early might actually help. >> charlie. >> rose: yes, david. >> i was just going to make a quick point building on that, that the absence of discussion about deficits which i think walter refers to before really changes the landscape here. i mean this is a president spent the past two years trying to deal with a defense budget that was supposed to be shrinking, that there were no resources for
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anything. and suddenly he can make the case again yes we've got some breathing room. >> rose: supposewb for a moment hillary clinton is watching the state of the union tonight. what isdon't all speak at once. >> she actually tweeted out tonight to say how good she thought the speech was. in many respects, he was channeling tone what the center for american progress put out a couple weeks ago about middle class issues run by her. >> i don't think historically we have to go back very far here to find the model that obama would beclinton. >> really? >> if you would like to leave with bill clinton's approval rating. >> rose: that's a different
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program. >> if you think jeb bush out of it because it's too close. eisenhower we had a disastrous 25 years where we had so many presidents coming and going. in reagan's second term iran contra was alive and boiling issues. >> rose: this basic idea of entitlement, we talked about the deficit. but the basic idea of entitlements andfe tax cuts, is that still at the forefront of the debate that taking place or we'll be looking for more creative and a stronger narrative than simply that issue which has been at the heart of the economic debate for the last six years. >> i certainly hope so. you got to hope there will be some larger debate now on the role of government, private enterprise and how to deal with a real problem that republicans themselves have said that the middle class struggling is a real problem. one of the things i kept thug i
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was looking at the various people in the audience tonight not only what hillary clinton was thinking but think how many are sitting out there thinking i hope that's me a couple years from now or i hope that's me six years from now. that desire must fill the audience to say i want to be where he is. >> thank you all. i only have time to say thank you john thank you david brooks, mark hall person, doris kearns goodwin john dickerson walter isaacson, david sanger. thank you all for being here. the debate begins for someone who is in command of a table there's nothing more attractive to that idea than me. thank you very much. it has been really interesting conversation to see. barack obama that wethere almost unleashed and expressing the competitive juices that is always had there to feel like that he's on the field and he's giving it his best. so an interesting say and i'm thankful and appreciative of all of you showing up here live at
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11:00. good night. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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